As I mentioned in my last entry, Americans who value liberty in all areas of life are underrepresented in political discourse, and many do not even accurately identify their belief platforms. I would like to start this entry by comparing the standing political parties’ stances on the social and economic liberty that I mentioned before.
A quick tour of the website of the Democratic Party can show what they stand for. It starts off saying “our country and our economy are strongest when they provide opportunity for all Americans.” This is exactly right. Provide people with equal opportunities and let them build their lives and their future. American history and ingenuity, human desire to live and prosper—these things drive people to work hard to make their lives, and consequently the world, a better place.
“Democrats believe that each of us has an obligation to each other.” Whoa. Really? I agree that we all have an equality of opportunity and that the government is in place to protect that opportunity, but opportunity includes the opportunity to fail. I believe in charity work to help those less fortunate, I believe in strong family cohesion to help people have a measure of security in the world, but I am absolutely opposed to the idea that I am governmentally “obligated” to any person in the country—morally or religiously through my own beliefs, yes; governmentally, no. I especially dislike the idea that other people, through threat of governmental force, will tell me exactly how I am obligated, how I “need” to help, and how my opportunity should be sacrificed for that obligation.
These two sentences taken from the Democrats’ stance begin to show the dual nature of their philosophy, how people are free but not free. Let us look at where this stance leads. Under the heading “Civil Rights” the Democratic website says that it stands for fighting employment discrimination and repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Both of these steps serve to increase Social liberty across the nation, letting people work, serve, or exist without reference to their beliefs, only to their performance. This is a good news for supporters of social liberty. It is disappointing that the particular page is so bare, lacking a clear definition of problems and solutions and instead using broad language and categories to make as inoffensive point as possible.
Under the heading of Retirement Security, Democrats begin to talk about their dearth of economic liberty. They proudly tout the creation of social security, a program which creates a government-run “retirement plan,” basically taxing workers to pay retirees. The website says that they “believe that all Americans have the right to a secure and healthy retirement.” I have a lot of issue with this. Americans certainly have the right to the opportunity of a secure retirement, through intelligent savings, risk-taking through investing, or a strong family structure that supports multi-generational families. There are many ways for people to work within their opportunities to secure their own retirement. Using government to force one group of people to support the lifestyle of another group is not economic freedom.
These are but two small examples of the idea of social freedom vs. economic freedom. Democrats tend toward more social freedom and less economic liberty. Now let us look at the Republican agenda and compare the two.
Starting with social liberty, the Republican Party tends to replace the word liberty with the word values. Their website says “Republicans have been at the forefront of protecting traditional marriage laws, both in the states and in Congress.” We know that this means that Republicans do not support gay or any other kind of marriage outside the traditional man and woman. And why not? Are nontraditional marriages hurting you personally in some way, some way that is worth taking a person’s social liberty? By contrast the Republican party does favor more economic liberty in the form of lower income taxes for all people. If a person honestly earns money (as opposed obtaining through force or fraud), then why should they not be allowed to keep and enjoy every penny that they earned? Is that not a blessing of liberty or pursuit of happiness for them? Or does the Constitution only apply to certain economic strata?
The divides between the ruling parties are evident and wide. There is little room for compromise when your basic beliefs are at odds, leading to the stalemate of partisan uselessness that we are currently experiencing. But the very fact that both parties have to qualify their liberties gives me cause for concern. Why can’t any party support “Liberty”? Why must political supporters have to decide between social or economic liberty? Why can we not have both?
Why can’t I use my opportunities to earn as much money as I can, then use it, keep it, and spend it in a way I see fit, without being governmentally forced to support others? I would agree and be very happy in return to not have those others be governmentally forced to assist me. Please do not confuse this with a lack of desire or willingness to help mankind. I have and will continue to do so through monetary and time donations, but at my discretion, to causes I consider worthy, and with complete control over my actions. I am also a big fan of the idea of family support. My family has continued to support each other throughout my lifetime, from the old to the young. Contrary to the perceptions of many whom I have discussed this with, a lack of government mandated monetary redistribution is not the equivalent of a cruel and unconcerned world. It is simply a world where people can choose when and how and why to help each other rather than be forced into it.
Additionally, why can’t I profess my love for a man, men, woman, or women, as I choose, in a legal ceremony? Does it prevent others from living their lives as they see fit? Does it in any way hinder anyone’s opportunities in this world?
The major political players in America create the impression that our biggest political decisions are which type of liberty to give up and how much of the other you get in return. One party favors economic liberty at the cost of social, and the other is the opposite. Where are the people who want liberty throughout their lives, in all aspects? Where are the proponents who believe that less government intervention means in all areas, not just Republican ones? Where are the Democrats who fight for equal opportunities, and also support people keeping the rewards of an opportunity well followed? Hopefully as this blog progresses I will outline areas where liberty is suffering and what we can do to fix it. Throughout the discussions that we will have, perhaps more people will realize that they really don’t identify as Republican or Democrat, but as something different.
I almost decided not to post this idea in favor of a more issue-focused argument. However, I think that at this point in the birth of Liberty’s Rest, it is important to paint a picture of how the ideas of liberty in all areas flow naturally from the dissatisfaction with the current American political system. It is important to the philosophy of liberty and to America to include a discussion on personal responsibility, which will come shortly. With luck, the arguments and discussions will focus on principles and logic while refraining from partisan ignorance.